WIA Community Conversations Summary - Diversity and Literacy

WIA Community Conversations Summary

Diversity and Literacy

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Diversity and Literacy Questions

  • What successes have you had in meeting the needs of diverse adult learners?
  • What are the challenges? What are some solutions to those challenges?
  • How can WIA reauthorization help meet the needs of diverse adult learners? What are your hopes?

Successes

  • What successes have you had in meeting the needs of diverse adult learners?
  • Learners of different nationalities, languages and cultures can and have learned together.
  • It is possible to tackle controversial topics in the classroom; we don’t have to shy away from issues that get messy quick and don’t lead to easy answers. Students can accept controversy and discomfort in the classroom.
  • Female learners are encouraged/supported to participate through:
    • National student writing publication
    • Active participation in national conference sessions
    • Visibility and access to women-centered literacy materials and resources
    • Creation of “Women Leading through Reading” book groups

Challenges

  • What are the challenges?
  • Learning takes time.
  • Lack of resources-this results in:
  • Fewer classes being offered
    • Cut in teacher hours
    • Lack of funding for professional development
    • Rules and regulations that work well in larger programs may handicap smaller programs in rural areas.
  • Teachers do not know how to integrate a diversity of resources.
  • Diverse learners may not have the social networks to help find jobs.
  • Learning takes place with diverse learners when they have time, safe space, and ancillary support to handle issues related to:
    • Income
    • Housing
    • Food
    • Childcare
    • Transportation
    • Physical and emotional safety

Solutions

  • What are some solutions to challenges?
  • Support “stopping out” (instead of punishing “dropping out”)
  • Increase the awareness of the impact of violence on trauma on learning and have counseling/resources/referrals available
  • Provide social networking opportunities, especially for accessing nontraditional jobs.
  • Provide opportunities for reflective practice/teacher inquiry/professional development on topics such as:
    • Recognizing the importance of the diverse backgrounds of students
    • How to include the different voices in the curriculum
    • How to integrate a diversity of resources in the classroom
  • Have case management and referral system 
  • Strong collaborative partnerships between schools and companies.
  • Distance learning helps students to study independently at home even when they attend class only once or twice a week, or less.

How Can WIA Help?

  • How can WIA reauthorization help meet the needs of diverse adult learners?
  • Workforce should not subsume all of adult education-basic level learners (the ones “hardest to serve”) should not be at risk of being “creamed out”.
  • ESL should be covered under WIA, especially groups such as refugees who do not know how to read or write in any language.
  • WIA should address family literacy, citizenship, and learning disabilities.
  • It is important that distance learning is covered under WIA.
  • WIA could facilitate partnerships between ABE and companies.
  • WIA needs to work with case workers-who are often the “gatekeepers” who determine whether individuals can access educational services.
  • WIA needs to officially acknowledge that developing an educated workforce that truly reflects our diverse population is worthwhile.
  • WIA needs to identify and understand the major barriers that adult learners face (unemployment, transportation, childcare, etc).

Hopes

  • What are your hopes?
  • Ed. should receive the same amount of resources as other companies.
  • The government should listen to student stories: to hear from students about why they've returned to school to get their GEDs, and to hear the stories of immigrants.
  • Society needs to understand that when adult learners have the opportunity to develop their skills, they are developing the capacity to succeed in further education and training that benefits all of us in our communities, in our society. The ripple effect
    of adult education touches all of our lives.
  • The “whole” person needs to be addressed in adult ed (cognition, emotion, spirit, and body).
  • OVAE needs to recognize the unique needs of women learners.